The socio-economic benefits would be immense if countries across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) fully digitalized their economies. Yet despite widespread usage of social media, the uptake of digital technologies such as mobile money and digital payments has been low in many countries across the region. "The Upside of Digital for the Middle East and North Africa: How Digital Technology Adoption Can Accelerate Growth and Create Jobs," seeks to explain this digital paradox.
The report presents compelling evidence of the socio-economic upside of digitalizing the economy. For example, GDP per capita could rise by more than 40%; employment in manufacturing by 7%; tourist arrivals could rise by 70%, thus creating jobs in the hospitality sector. Moreover, long-term unemployment rates could fall to negligible levels and female labor force participation could double.
To reap these gains, universal access to digital technologies is crucial, as is the widespread use of digital technologies for economic purposes. The authors explore how fast MENA could approach universal coverage and whether prioritizing the rollout of digital infrastructure services is sufficient. They also assess what would be needed to increase the use of digital payment tools.